What are your favorite technology learning tools? Now (until September 23) is a good time to send your recommendations to Jane Hart (see this link) as she for the 10th year finishes compiling recommendations made by learning professionals. Jane will be organizing her report into three broad categories of learning tools:
Top 100 Tools for Education – those used in schools, colleges, and universities
Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning – those used in training, for performance support, and social collaboration.
Top 100 Tools for Personal & Professional Learning – those used for self-organized learning.
In the next couple of weeks I shall be sharing my recommendations and the results of my revisiting my most useful desktop tools with particular emphasis on those that enhance my writing/ publishing/ screencasting capabilities.
I now usually also give my research assistants an opportunity to give me their recommendations. Last year they wrote and published their first book about their favorite tools. As soon as they are settle in I’ll share some of their new good work and their recommendations.
Some of my most joyful teaching moments occur outside the classroom playfully interacting with my student research assistants. Today as I experimented with teaching capabilities of Vimeo and YouTube I invited two members of my research team to join me briefly to help me test the Voila Screencasting application. Our shared laughter is invigorating.
And here is the wisdom of my other youthful team members. They provide me many positive Carroll learning moments!
While my undergraduate research students have independently of me been working hard on their ebook project (which they hope to share with me next week), I have been investing some time (and money) exploring different WordPress “themes” (visual layouts), playing with a new video camera that promises better screencast quality on YouTube and Vimeo, and investigating some of the additional features available to LinkedIn users who pay for a premium account. In addition to my students writing a WordPress blog piece about LinkedIn which can be found here, I explored the LinkedIn platform blogging capabilities and published two pieces there: this piece—and a second one. My thanks to the numerous LinkedIn “connections” who viewed the posts (especially to Carroll alumnus Steve Thomas) for giving us “LinkedIn novices” some helpful guidance!
Here is a screencast of some of my (mis)adventures exploring the paid-for premium versus free versions of LinkedIn:
And here are are some additional LinkedIn resources I have found useful in getting a better understanding of how LinkedIn could serve the needs of my students and my interests:
Earlier this morning I had a team meeting with two of my student research assistants before leaving for an off-campus meeting with my Schneider Consulting business partners, Jane and Greg Schneider. I gave these two student assistants three assignments (with the additional task of passing on these assignments to their remaining two team members who were scheduled to arrive at noon):
Develop for me a blog piece that evaluates the usefulness of VoiceThread for us.
Continue working on the ebooks we plan to publish in Kindle Format using Amazon’s Kindle Direct software. I am delighted that as I write this blog piece this evening all assignments were completed.
I praised them for the consistent excellence they were demonstrating in their work with me. In part, our success at working so well together is because we have developed certain habits that facilitate communication and work flow:
Saving the day’s work on Google Drive where we all share access and editing privileges.
Demonstrating the right balance between solving problems on their own with creative “workarounds” or insights and knowing when to seek my assistance.
Learning together, using what we learn, and sharing it with others.
Making time for reflection, celebration, and having fun. I’m still laughing at the delightful reading that Alison and Lizzy shared with me today via a screen cast in a draft of a blog.
When Ariana and Tia ran into a bottleneck today which they could not circumvent, they promptly communicated the problem to me via email sending a screen cast documenting which computer they were using and exactly what problem they were having. Consequently, I was not only able to recommend a solution to the problem but I was also able to share the screen cast with one of my business partners and teach her about screencasting. How lucky I am to have the opportunity to work with, develop, and learn from such talented students.
Allow me to introduce one of my consulting partners, Jane Schneider, in her screen casting debut using Voilá. Today I introduced her to WordPress and to a WordPress guide my students are developing. I hope that Jane, Greg and I from time to time can share with interested readers some of the work that our team does together.
I am moving towards requiring that all my students demonstrate to me minimal mastery of the use of the technology-based teaching and learning tools I introduce into the classroom (e.g. Quizlet, Starquiz). My esteemed student research students do the pilot work.
I asked Tia and Ariana to show me that they could use Camtasia to create a screencast of how to access two statistical packages I introduce in PSY205 (InStat and SPSS) and one piece of software (research randomizer) that allows students to perform random assignment and random sampling.
Take a look:
I now will assess whether each of my forty-four students can access these tools (based on Tia and Arianna’s lessons) and use them to enhance their learning. Here is a benchmark for what they should know.
Recently there has been a campus-wide discussion about the need to include writing experiences across the curriculum and across a student’s learning years here. I’ve become a strong believer in giving students opportunities to use blogging software and to give them mentored practice in writing thoughtful, civil responses online to articles which are published online.
I asked two of my research assistants (Alison and Lizzy) , before I left today, to create for me a screencast tutorial using the Camtasia software they just had learned about a basic student guide about how to use WordPress. In their guide they show how to create an account, how to follow someone else’s blog pieces, and some of the many capabilities of WordPress.
I am quite impressed how on short notice, with no supervision from me, they were able to exceed my high expectations. How fortunate I have been across the years from my first student assistant, Larry Jost, until now to work closely with such wonderful fellow learners!
Here is Alison and Lizzy’s tutorial:
Any comments or feedback would be much appreciated.
Carroll has become a special place to me. I have been influenced greatly by its students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni. By its traditions, theater productions and its music.
There are lots of changes these days occurring at Carroll. Some of them are physical, others organizational. Some things never change (read between the lines:); some things never should change.
I asked research assistants Alison and Lizzy to document some of the physical changes. Here is what they produced:
I continue to experiment with my “best” course (Statistics and Experimental Design) to make it better by finding the right balance of technology-assisted and personally- delivered instruction. Here is how I have taught it in the past. I have been pleased at the helpfulness, useful feedback and receptiveness of students past and present as I experiment.
I began the class wanting to test the sound systems so I shared this amazing tribute to David Bowie:
Instead of calling out the class list to take attendance I give a quiz every day with immediate feedback which goes into a student portfolio. I also call upon a random group of students (selected by students using random sampling software to select the lucky students). Two students won free copies of my workbook!
Since then I have introduced them to SPSS and InStat (i.e. that the latter software exists) and to Survey Monkey.
Here is something Lizzy and Alison produced illustrating one of these tools:
Voila is a great screen casting software that can be downloaded on your iMac, iPhone, and iPad. Since Evernote is getting rid of the software, Skitch, this new feature was created in place of it with more features that are very beneficial.
When using this app you are able to take a screen shot of your full home screen, or capture a certain section of your home screen with the different screen shot tools. You are also able to overlap multiple screenshots in the software as well. In addition, if you would like to record your voice or anything on the computer while using the device you are able to do a recording. After you have taken the recording, it will open up in Voila and you can trim your new video and have the recording play over the screen casting. One flaw of Voila, is that you must download an additional app to have noise with your recording. You also need to export your recording to an app like Imovie to complete and edit your recording. Here is an example of our research team using Voila and Imovie to show people how to use Survey Monkey.
Voila allows you to edit your screen shots in multiple different ways. Some really nice features that Skitch doesn’t have is that you are able to add stickers to your screen shots as well as add a spotlight to a certain part of the screen shot. The spotlight helps a section you select stand out and blur out the rest of the background of the screen shot as much as you would like. Another feature that you are able to do that Skitch can’t is blur out in different ways. You can do motion blurs, the static blur, a pixelated blur, and etc. Also, there are different kinds of arrows you can use in Voila to lead someone from one spot of your screen cast to another to show them instructions, like where to go from point A to point B, and etc. Voila allows you to marquee the pictures as well. This means that with any of the shapes they have or what you create, you are able to put that shape on a certain part of the screen shot and duplicate it. So that part you’ve chosen can be more bolded, or put in another screen shot. Below is an example of the different effects and borders that Voila has available to us.
In Voila, you can paint the background of your screen shots so they are in a different color other then the default gray. Also, you are able to change the color of every option that you use besides the blurs. So, you can change the color of the arrows, the background, the stamps, and etc. In addition to changing the color of the background, you can change the outlining of the background. So, instead of just having a straight outline around your picture, you are able to have a different look such as dashes.
However, Voila still has the same great features Skitch does. You are still able to put a text box in different shapes on your screen shot, so that you can write something that you may want to specify. Also, you are able to change the coloring of the text if need be. If you rather not type in the text box, but still want to write on the screen shot, then you are able to use the pencil feature and use free hand on your screen shot. Voila does not have the highlighting feature, but that is why they have the new spot light feature.
In Voila you can create shapes or add certain shapes in the picture that you are able to write text in. You are able to change the coloring of the outside of them which will not change the text that you type on the inside of the text box. Also, there is a feature called, Callout. This feature is one that has more text boxes in different shapes, but it also includes certain memes that you can put in your screen cast as well.
Another fun feature Voila has is the ability to take screen shots of any website directly through the application. This is efficient to all users since you do not have to leave the application to complete your desired task. Also, you are able to import your own photos from iPhoto and edit them with Voila. Once you are done editing your desired photos, you can then import them back into your photo library. Here is an example of a screenshot taken directly through Voila, and then edited after the screenshot was taken.
Overall, Voila has many new features and old features that Skitch once had. Voila seems to be more user friendly, as well as having more options for editing and screen casting purposes.
Despite the semester only being a month old, I have been unusually busy with other Carroll matters at times when I ordinarily would be working side-by-side with my research assistants. Fortunately, they are reliable, competent, and motivated enough to delight me with independent work. I assigned to several of them the task of investigating the relative strengths and weaknesses of several kinds of screen-casting software. Here is what they produced as part of an e-book project we are about to engage in.
I continue to experiment with my “best” course to make it better by finding the right balance of technology-assisted and personally- delivered instruction. I have been pleased at the helpfulness, useful feedback and receptiveness of students as we “experiment.”
I just made a Screenflow screencast of what I taught in lab this week (using SPSS to create a scatterplot, calculate Pearson’s r, and do simple linear regression).
This time I published it on YouTube rather than on Vimeo.
I also, in response to student feedback, created some Quizlet study materials. Click the Quizlet link to try them.
A next step will be to involve students in the creation of such materials—rather than my doing so. That may wait until next year, however, since I want to introduce this year’s students to instruction in using Survey Monkey survey creation software.